Survivors of Potato Famine in Ireland begin new lives in America
March 25, 2015
The story starts out in Branlow, County Roscommon, Ireland. The year is 1846, and the people and the land are suffering due to the potato famine. Many left their homes in hopes of a better future. Some stayed and barely survived, but many starved to death.
Clare Hanley, her brother, Seamus and their friend, Pierce were chosen by their families to go to America, the land of opportunity. The plan was to get jobs to send money home to their families.
The voyage was very difficult, and their arrival in New York disappointing. The stories they heard about the abundance of employment and wealth were false. There were many poor and starving people trying to make a living.
Disappointment and heartache were constant companions for Clare, Seamus, and Pierce. Dealing with unscrupulous people, trying to survive, and worrying about family in Ireland gave the reader a graphic picture of what life was like during that time in history.
This is the first book in the Heirs of Ireland series. It took a while to hold my interest as there were so many characters, but I soon became engrossed in each of their fascinating stories
Disheartened, oppressed, and impoverished, Irish potato farmers sought deliverance from the plague of the potato famine by sending family members to the land of plenty. Illusions of wealth and the promise of plentiful jobs in America lured countless numbers of Irish immigrants to New York City. Unknown were the unpleasant conditions found on board the ships en route to America, and a false sense of security that was literally shattered upon arrival in the "land of plenty." Deceived and destitute, the revelation that they had exchanged one wretched situation for another was disheartening.
Michael K. Reynolds has created a compelling masterpiece of legendary historical fiction! Powerful and dynamic, the details in this novel reveal the depravities experienced by Irish immigrants upon arrival in a country that represented promise and hope. What lay ahead for the characters in Flight of the Earls was deception, the scarcity of productive jobs, lack of adequate housing, filth and squalor in the streets, and danger lurking in the darkness of the city.
I experienced the impoverished countryside and the rotting potato fields of Ireland, endured the gut wrenching travel by ship overseas to America, and the gutters of New York City through the voice of this powerful author. Flight of the Earls is an impressive full length novel to be experienced and appreciated for its richness in detail and the depth of character represented. Penned with incredible depth and rich detail, this novel is an experience in reality. I highly recommend this captivating novel, and recommend that you allow yourself to become immersed in the diversity highlighted in this creation. Descriptive and compelling, this novel is outstanding!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.
It is the rare book that stuns me with its opening line. One sentence in, and I know this book would be a treat.
"Most days blended into the grayness of Liam Hanley's life, but this particular one haunted, a brooding prophetess tormenting the potato farmer with visions of his precious dream succumbing to the Irish downpour of misfortune, washing out his aspirations in familiar brown rivulets of defeat."
Those words from author Michael Reynolds set the tone for the rest of the story: one of hope, disappointment, desperation and survival. And the beauty of the opening line is no fluke. Flight of the Earls is filled with poetic prose that carries the reader along like a gently flowing river. Reynolds conveys scenes with such clarity I could see the farm in Ireland, the belly of the ship, the overwhelming poverty in New York.
As the blight that would become known as the Great Famine in Ireland reaches their small farm, Clare Hanley, her brother Seamus and neighbor Pierce are sent away to America to seek a better life for them and the families they leave behind. They soon learn that their prospects have been exaggerated and they join the ranks of the other Irish immigrants in the Five Points area of New York. Their story is one of survival, adventure, friendship and love.
I'm in awe of debut novels that are this good. I'll be eager to read the next two stories in the series. The sequel, In Golden Splendor, is available now. The third is yet to come.
If you're a fan of Irish history, I think you'll like this one.
My interest in this book is: the Irish story. I love Riverdance, the movie Far & Away, and have studied the Irish Mafia for many years. This book fit right in!
Ideas expressed/message/plot: This book puts you in the midst of what it would be like to be Irish and to travel to America in 1846-47; the Five Points, NY; TRUE love; overcoming.
Favorite characters, quotes/lines: "Seamus realized Ireland was in every town."
When I finished this book I felt: Thick with thoughts of God. Truly, this book is not the typical Historical Fiction that I usually read, thus it took me a while to settle in. And settle in I did! I read a lot of Romantic Historical fictions (think Chick-Flick style) and this was much more a Drama/Saga. (Saga: a long, involved story, account, or series of incidents ). The first half of the book was like looking at someone's snapshots of historical records and pictures. The first half set the stage for the story that really took over about 1/2 way through. However, the setting of the stage is a beautiful weaving of tapestry that makes this book what it is. I will have images of this story floating through my mind for years to come.
Well done Michael! I'm in love with your story and can't wait for the next!!! I really loved Seamus' story~could feel his pain and understand why he behaved as he did. I felt for him. Can't wait for July to read [[ASIN:1433678209 In Golden Splendor: An Heirs of Ireland Novel]]
Overall: It depends what you're looking for in a historical fiction. If you are looking for a cute, fun (chick-flick) story that simply takes place in a historical period or setting...this is not that (think Deeanne Gist, Kaye Dacus, Jamie Carie, Colleen Coble). If you want something that gets your hands dirty with the history, then this is your book! I felt the hardship, felt the struggle, both internal and external, because Michael placed before me situations that caused me to wonder what I myself would do or feel. I really think that those of us who love chick-flicks should give this one a read because, though different, it is an impacting story; a great book.
Full Fledged 5 Stars! This is a book I would recommend to anyone teen+, especially those who love history.
I would highly recommend this be required reading for anyone teaching/learning about this era!
Flight of the Earls starts in 1846 when the potato famine hits in Ireland. Brother and sister, Seamus and Clare, leave their Irish homeland for a better life in the United States of America. Clare settles in New York City where she faces many obstacles, tragedy, secrets, and love. Is this new home where she finds happiness that she was looking for when she left her precious Ireland?
Michael K Reynolds does a fabulous job with this debut and first installment of the Song of the Shenandoah series. His vivid descriptions of how hard it was for the Irish during the famine and trying to make America their new home. Their story was emotional, intriguing, captivating, and stunning all in one. I couldn't ask for a better historical fiction that tells the story of my Irish ancestors.
I loved the main character, Clare. She was such a strong woman, who had to overcome so much. She's someone you could really admire! I can't wait to see what happens in the rest of this series.
I highly recommend this stunning novel! I promise you will NOT be disappointed. 5 stars.